Condoning Bad Behavior

Posted December 21, 2011 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder
Pop culture enthusiasts have watched for years as celebrities like Lindsay Lohan are consistently coddled and their bad behavior overlooked. Spending only hours in jail rather than weeks or months, one can’t help but wonder why these individuals are treated so differently than many others with similar bad behavior. Why do we condone the bad behavior of the rich and celebrity?

The same question is pertinent in the business world. The more powerful you become, the more rich, the more senior in a company, the more seasoned in your field, the more we condone (and even encourage, I believe) bad behavior. If a 22 year old assistant send a scathing email to a colleague, he or she might be put on the firing block. But if a high level VP or C-level individual sends the same email to the same colleague, it’s chalked up to their stress level, their experience, or their rank in the hierarchy. Just like celebrities, the higher you rise in fame or fortune in the corporate world, the more we (as a society and as subordinates) condone your bad behavior.

Is it possible, though, to reverse this kind of behavior? A superior of mine once said about a badly behaving colleague, “I think we’re about forty years too late in teaching this person manners.” And as German physicist Max Planck once said, “Science advances one funeral at a time.” Maybe we can’t change the behavior today, but we can prevent it in the future.

The responsibility here falls not to those with the bad behavior, unfortunately. But to us. As a generation who will likely fill those offices and seats at the table. It is our responsibility to become the responsible and respectful generation, one who does not gain bad behaviors like scathing emails and demanding 5:00pm requests of our staff. We have to be the generation who says “Thank you” and “I appreciate your hard work.” We can’t change the current top of the totem pole, but we can change the way we behave on our way there and once we get there. I implore us all to be…..the Dakota Fanning of the business world…not the Lindsay Lohan.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."